Why We Must Stop Trying to Take the Hill

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November 3, 2021

Numbers 14:44-45 (NIV)

44 Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the highest point in the hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord’s covenant moved from the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.

CONSIDER THIS

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)

The three most devastating words in today’s text: “in their presumption.”

The Hebrew term there is pronounced (aw-fal). It means literally, “to swell.” It denotes a kind of willfulness born of pride, self confidence and determination to go one’s own way. The word stubborn comes to mind. On an earlier occasion God used the term “stiff-necked” to describe these people. It comes from the image of an ox that will not respond to commands or goading but bears down and goes his own direction anyway. For all its strength, it is useless. Clearly, I am describing someone you know. They are perhaps living in your home right now. 

Strong-willed, controlling people can get a lot done and often accomplish much, but they tend to be an impediment to the Lord. The will of God must be done in the way of God or it will not be done at all. Today’s text is a powerful example. God made his will known to the people that his promise was for them to inhabit the land. They rebelled against his promise. He responded with new guidance. They went against his guidance. They met with failure. One simply cannot do the will of God while disregarding the Word of God for only the Word of God brings us to understand the ways of God. 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you. (Psalm 32:8-9)

So what kind of heart would the Lord fashion in us? The word is meekness. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth,” Jesus teaches. (Matthew 5). The Bible describes Moses as follows: “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3). A meek person is not a weak person but one who has come to the deep conviction that all of their strength is as weakness to the Lord. They have come to understand that the Lord has no need of their strength, only their surrender. The world trains us to focus on our strengths. Jesus wants us to learn to glory in our weakness. Unbroken strength is an impediment to the work of God. Meekness is broken strength in humbly surrendered reserve.

I love the way Mary Karr put it in her poem, Who the Meek are not.” 

“To understand the meek
(she says) picture a great stallion at full gallop
in a meadow, who—
at his master’s voice—seizes up to a stunned
but instant halt.
So with the strain of holding that great power
in check, the muscles
along the arched neck keep eddying,
and only the velvet ears
prick forward, awaiting the next order.”

Be encouraged, Jesus is our Great Shepherd. He delights in leading us at every turn, and in every step, if we would only learn to walk with him. Hear his voice today, saying

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

Cast off your wilfull, stubborn, self-reliant, independent spirit. That’s not who you really are. It is how you (or someone else) thought you needed to be to make it this far. Bless your old self for the gifts and goods it has given and gently lay it aside now. You are being made new now. What got you here cannot take you to where Jesus is leading. 

And there’s a “meddling” word in here for Christian Americans in this age of great confusion. Renounce presumption. Stop trying to take the hill. Jesus took the only hill that matters—Calvary. He calls us to bear the Cross in the valley of vision. Silence the tidal waves of discouragement coming through what parades as today’s news. Cast aside your outrage. Put on love. Become meek. Great Awakening will depend on it. Or must we wait again for everyone over twenty or thirty to perish in this wilderness? Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead. And Christ will shine on you! (Ephesians 5:14)

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)

THE PRAYER

Father, I renounce presumption. I want to run away from any semblance of it. I now run with the abandonment of a trusting child into your grace, goodness and glory. Jesus, I belong to you. Jesus, I follow you. Expose my controlling nature as a failure to trust in you. Expose my willful disposition as a failure to walk in your ways. Come Holy Spirit and train me in the ways of meekness. Show me why I resist. Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me.  We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

Are you aware of the voices of discouragement berating you through all manner of media these days? Do you realize the toxic effect it is having on your faith? If you aren’t willing to silence it, will you consider giving Jesus twice as much time as you give these voices every day? 

P.S. — ENCOURAGEMENT #3

ENCOURAGEMENT #3 TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SEEDBED ADVENT EXPERIENCE: The most neglected and perhaps essential focus of Advent is on the Second Coming or Advent of Jesus. We will dig in deep in the first part of the season together. It will be eye and heart opening. Let’s do this! You can see all the details here. If you already have the book, The Christian New Year, be sure to choose that option on the dropdown to avoid buying another book—OR EVEN BETTER—get another book and invite a friend to join us. COME ON!

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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